Abstract

Parents who are substance-involved and who have experienced adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) display heightened risks in the parent-child relationship. Little is known, however, regarding the mechanisms that perpetuate intergenerational cycles of childhood trauma. Further, a paucity of research on trauma, attachment, and parenting has examined fathers. To address these gaps in the literature, we examined a high-risk sample of 101 parents (75 mothers and 26 fathers) who were opioid-involved and who had a child aged 0- to 5-years. Parents rated their ACEs, perceived parent-child attachment, substance use, depressive symptoms, trauma reactions, and parental coping styles. Parents also rated perceptions of their retrospective attachment with their caregivers and their caregivers' substance use. Results indicated that mothers' perceived anxious and frightened-disorganized attachment with their caregivers predicted these same attachment patterns with their own children and that these relationships were moderated by mothers' ACEs. Further, mothers' trauma reactions mediated the relationship between their ACEs and perceived frightened-disorganized attachment with their children, whereas mothers' depressive symptoms predicted uniquely perceived helpless-disorganized attachment with their children above and beyond ACEs (although they did not mediate this relationship). These data suggested that the psychological consequences resulting from ACEs may carry greater risk for mother-child disorganized attachment patterns than ACEs alone. Interestingly, fathers' ACEs did not predict any patterns of attachment with their children. These data highlighted differences in mothers' and fathers' perceptions of attachment. Generally, our results suggested that parenting interventions utilizing trauma-informed and family-focused approaches with mothers and fathers may be most beneficial for breaking intergenerational cycles of trauma.

Notes

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Graduation Date

2020

Semester

Fall

Advisor

Renk, Kimberly

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

College

College of Sciences

Department

Psychology

Degree Program

Psychology; Clinical Psychology

Format

application/pdf

Identifier

CFE0008777;DP0025508

URL

https://purls.library.ucf.edu/go/DP0025508

Language

English

Release Date

6-15-2026

Length of Campus-only Access

5 years

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)

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